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Big Swede - Valkyrie Brewing

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Big Swede
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very good

103 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 103
Reviews: 88
rAvg: 3.88
pDev: 10.05%
Wants: 15
Gots: 2 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Valkyrie Brewing visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: xlperro on 05-13-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 103 | Reviews: 88 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of IntriqKen
3.01/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours pitch black with a tan head that melt to a tan covering of tiny bubbles.

Aromas are slightly smokey and surprisingly fruity.

Flavors are dark toasted malt, some smokiness, and sweet fruitiness that ends up leaving a bit of citrus in the mouth.

Not at all like an RIS to my humble tongue. Too much fruit sweetness and no toasted brown sugar sweetness. I imagine this is due to the selection of hops but I found it unusual and slightly distracting.

Photo of CFbeermaker
4.35/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured "black, like midnight on a moonless night", with a small light brown head. Smells of roasted barley and chocolate with a sweet smell like a scotch and water. Tastes how it smells with a little smokiness and some faint floral hops at the end. Has a nice mouthfeel. Not as heavy of a beer as it looks and is actually quite smooth and pleasant to drink. It also seems to be getting better as I drink it which almost reminds me of a scotch on the rocks type feel.

Photo of Crosling
3.67/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown color with a light brown head. Mild and a bit disappointing aroma. Fairly good, but not great in the flavor profile. A bit sparse and poorly extracted, not much complexity or character. Finishes fairly well though, with lingering chocolate character.

Photo of ArrogantB
3.41/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was a very dark black pour into a pint glass since I didn;t feel like using a snifter. The head is short and white but hangs around a little. Not a bad RIS but then again, nothing special here. I probably would not buy this beer if it were available. I am not quite sure what made it Swedish style?

Photo of umustdrink
4.32/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Completely opaque black color. Head is a nice brown color that settles at an eighth inch. Lacing is in small patches.

S - Chocolate pudding, bananas, milk chocolate and a very light roast coffee.

T - Nice roasted malt flavor, I taste more chocolate where others might say its more like coffee. Some sweet vanilla, banana, and lighter chocolate tones. Finish is a nice light coffee.

M - Consistency is on the thin side but with a nice chalkiness. Taste sticks with you for a long time.

D - Very nice and pleasant all around. Will have again and will recommend.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.47/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Impenetrable mahogany with a glimmer of reddish gold along the bottom edge of the glass. In spite of an increasingly elevated pour, the mocha colored cap only reached a height of a slim one finger. It's hanging in there reasonably well, but doesn't look the type to leave any lace. At only 8%, the beer shouldn't be this head and lace deficient. It's still a good looking stout.

The nose is great because it's powerful and because it's multi-faceted. The primary aromas are roasted barley, bittersweet chocolate and coffee. The thing that makes it different is a bourbon-like, charred oak, vanilla esteriness. I'm pretty sure Big Swede isn't aged in bourbon barrels, but it might as well be.

I'm not sure that Russian Imperial Stout is the correct style. And I have no idea what Swedish Style Imperial Stout even means. When compared to the heavy hitters, this one comes up a bit short on brute strength and mouthfeel. Not to worry because it more than makes up for it by being stupendously delicious.

I've had a lot of big stouts, but I don't know that I've ever had one that tastes quite like Big Swede. There's more than usual happening on the taste buds, all of it good. For starters, sweet, sour and bitter are exceptionally well-balanced. All are present and all contribute something of value at differents points along the flavor arc. As is often the case, sweet dominates early, sour occupies the middle and bitter cleans up at the end.

I would have bet that Viking ages this sucker in bourbon barrels. Every one of the usual suspects are present: brown sugar, vanilla (especially), a light oaky char, even a little smoke. I'm alternating between trying to break it down during one mouthful and simply enjoying it the next. I know one thing, I wish I had the big bottle rather than this woefully inadequate twelve ouncer.

I've changed my mind about the mouthfeel. Even though it isn't as massive and as thickly chewy as I might like, it's as silky smooth as any beer in recent memory. I have no problem with the carbonation being on the low end if it results in a mouthfeel this luxurious.

Nothing that I've had from Viking prepared me for the incredible beer... that is now gone from my glass. It's easily the finest thing these guys have ever created. I'm compiling a list of what to look for the next time I venture up to Madison. Big Swede has just been added, given a few exclamation points and circled. Outstanding!

Photo of emerge077
4.28/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown that becomes an opaque black in the snifter. Last bit is swirled and added, resulting in a couple fingers of chocolaty foam.

First whiff is of banana, a hint of smoke, and roasted malt. This later subsides, producing a boozy note. Started out big and appealing though.

Taste is really exceptional. Chocolaty, rich smoky malt, and that banana note hangs out in the background. Second time drinking this (1/2008), there's a juicy fresh plum note that is upfront. Dry finish, with mild bittersweet chocolate, char, and dry tobacco leaf. Smooth on the palate, silky mouthfeel. It has a fullness about it, but isn't heavy or cloying. My guess on the ABV is 7-8%.

Well done!

Photo of nlmartin
4.38/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A giant thanks to jeffkrenner who sent this beer as part of BC-2. The beer was served at room temperature in a Imperial Nonic.

Appearance: The beer pours with a black hole blackness. The head of the beer is about 1 finger high. The head is a the color of lightly creamed coffee. Rings of lacing remain behind on my glass.

Smell: The beer has a very pleasing combination of chocolate, dark cocoa, light coffee, vaguely mineral and vanilla.

Taste: The beer presents the palate with a blend of dark semi sweet cafe vanilla mocha. The taste then goes slightly herbal and slightly mineral flavor. Then the beer explodes into a very deep chared roasting. If you dont like chared and deeply roasted avoid this beer.

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: This beer is just shy of a heavy body. The beer has a very low carbonation. The flavors are long lasting and very much chared. I found this beer hard to put down. If I come across this beer again I will definately buy it.

Photo of Mdog
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Black, almost no head at all.

Smell: Some chocolate, and maybe a little banana?

Taste: Starts sweet and roasty, then dark chocolate bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium, not as heavy as a lot of imp. stouts.

Drinkability: Pretty good stuff.

This is a pretty good beer from Viking. It's not as amped up as other imperial stouts but has more there than a regular stout. One of their better offerings.

Photo of badbeer
4.03/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out black, but more dark brown around the edges. Light tan colored head that slowly dissipates leaving some spotty lacing. Light cocoa aromas with coffee hidden even more, there is a definate creamy vanilla aroma as well. Taste doesn't overpower the palate, but isn't skimpy either. It starts out with a light cocoa flavor paired with some vanilla, leading you to a small amount of earthy hops, before turning into a long roasty finish. Taste gets better as it warms, and the finish is the best part of each drink. Creamy and smooth with low carbonation, lighter side of full bodied. Overall this is one pretty good beer, and one that is better than my ratings show. To be honest, this is one that I'll be picking up quite often, I really enjoyed it.

Photo of blackie
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: Upon pouring, a low mocha colored head is produced and soon recedes. The beer is nearly black in color.

smell: Milk and dark roasted chocolate malts upfront followed immediately by a metallic tinge. Moderately sweet with a slight, sweet lactose aroma. Moderate, herbal hop aroma.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is a low medium, and the body on the lighter side of the heavy range.

taste: Roasted malts upfront give flavors of dark chocolate. A touch of lactose. Moderately sweet with a decent amount of hop flavor and moderate bitterness. The finish is only slightly dry. Not as roasty and deep as I usually prefer.

drinkability: not a problem...ABV (whatever it is) well hidden and a good example of the style

bottle picked up during my last trip to Madison for the GTotMW

Photo of Westsidethreat
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours thick with a lot of viscosity to it. Deep, dark, ebony brown possesing no ability to allow light thru. Head raised momentarily then dropped to a film and dark beige ring.

S: Dried cocoa, angel food, cafe au lait, hints of orange liquer and minor hazelnut.

T: Immediate dark, dry bakers chocolate with glints of sour milk. Moments of anise hints and mild iced coffee move the adventure along. Generous amounts of bittering hops mixed with roasted grains add a nice bite to this brew. Finishes with some serious chocolate icing, alcohol highs and cafe mocha.

M: Medium body, full across the tongue.

D: This was a delicious beer. Very sweet and sugary but nothing cloying or obtrusive. Best Viking beer to date.

Photo of dfried
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty much black, some crimson/mahogany at the edges. Head was a thin film and ring, almost butterscotch in color. Roasted malt aroma with a lot of dark cherry like sweetness, and some noticable hops. I liked the taste quite a bit, creamy roasted malt, and a lot of fruity flavors. Very good grassy hop flavor as well. Body was full, but not as full as a lot of RIS's, which made it quite drinkable. This beer might not stand out for the style, but I was pretty impressed by it, both in drinkability and originality.

Photo of sponberg
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. "Swedish style Imperial Stout" in a bottle with a foil neck label - doesn't look at all like the one in the pic. Doesn't matter. Viscous very dark brown with a chocolate milk colored head that's still hanging tough 20 minutes later. REALLY like the aroma in this one - earthy hops, toffee/fig/port-like maltiiness, whiffs of alcohol, and slightly burnt coffee.

Starts with a big round chewy dark maltiness - figs, plums, toffee, almost sherry-like notes - alongside subdued coffee, alcohol, and earthy hops. Somewhere in there is a taste like what oak lumber smells like - a spicy woodiness for lack of a better term. The alcohol starts to show up in the middle along with more pronounced slightly burnt coffee, followed by a hint of apples (where the hell'd THEY come from? The alcohol evaporating, maybe? Got me!) and a roasty bitterness. Finishes with dry cocoa, coffee, and port-like smokiness with lingering alcohol and dark sweetness. Chewy but not overly so. Complex, but after a couple I'd be wanting to try something else.

Very interesting Impy stout from a brewery I had never heard of. Thanks again to FBG Tip Top for the bottle!

Photo of demcorhip
3.65/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew poured a dark black, with a hint of ruby around the edges when held up to light. No head, and essentially no lacings in this very slightly carbonated beer.

The burnt malts produced bitter scents of espresso and dark chocolate. Creamy notes also present, as well as a faint floral grassiness.

The burnt malts produced flavours of dark chocolate and dark roasted coffee. A hint of oak? An even lesser hint of vanilla? Some sweeter roasted malts present with a touch of caramel, and the mild earthy, floral, and grassy contribution from the hops and yeast compliment the bitter flavours.

This is a medium bodied flavourful and balanced brew. Its mostly roasted bitterness is balanced nicely with some creaminess and sweeter malts, as well as the earthy, floral, and grassy notes. Not much carbonation in this offering.

This is a tasty, drinkable, almost big beer. Not quite session fare, and certainly not crossover fare, except maybe for those who are big fans of espresso or dark chocolate. A good, substantial drink on a cold weather day.

Photo of CharlesDarwin
3.72/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Originally reviewed April 9, 2005. Bottle at the Gitchee Gumee Brewfest 2005. A syrupy dark brown pour, with a diminished off-white head. The waft of this beer is of acorns, but that quality morphs into a more even buttery nuttyness, like pecans in the flavor profile, joining up with some savory toasted notes and some unexplainable things here. It finishes up with a sweet honey and almond kiss. This is very good, but different from the current Imperial Stout production pattern.

Photo of expatsteve
3.94/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a thick, black color with no head and only a little lacing. Low/medium viscosity.

Aroma: Wonderfully fruity aroma - raisins and lemon peel over chocolate and molasses produces a compelling slightly sour nose.

Taste: Immediate fruit sourness that is reminiscent of a vintage port. Big plums and raisins, a little brown sugar, balanced by a great bitter finish. Nice sweet chocolate malts. Develops a little lactic sourness as it warms. Nice to find such big flavors in an affordable beer - particularly with the balance in flavor that this has.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation provides a pleasant, creamy mouthfeel. Good cleansing bitterness in the finish along with a chocolate malt aftertaste.

Drinkability: Very drinkable for a complex beer. Nice fruity finish not normally found in stronger stouts makes Big Swede a nice almost unique rendition of the style. Given the price and availability in these parts, this is well worth checking out.

Photo of dirtylou
4.12/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

7/27/06 Update: this was 2nd in line during the Imperial/Double Stout night with expatsteve and Golden2wenty1. My overall analysis remains pretty similar and would have resulted in approximately a 4 overall.

12oz single, Riley's, $1.99

appearance: poured into a snifter...motor oil, very dark mahogany...absolutely no head or lacing which was sort of odd...very dark and full body

smell: very rich, dark roasted malt, super creamy, big chocolate aromas, coffee grounds. appears very well balanced from the nose

taste: This is pretty darn tasty...super silky smooth, sweet dark chocolate, very creamy, roasted malt, dark roast coffee, slight bitterness in the aftertaste, alcohol presence felt, licorice, light hopping noticeable...Its not a thick RIS but its very good

mouthfeel: a little on the thin side but delightfully creamy and smooth, bitterness and booze found in the aftertaste

drinkability: high

Photo of weeare138
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to hopdog for this...
Appears a dense black with a frothy, 2 finger tan head that slowly fades into a film and collar. Plenty of beautiful lacing is left all around the glass.
Smell is of black currants, fudgey chocolate, toasted nuts, and a touch of citrusy orange infused with blackstrap molasses.
Taste is of the lovely aromas with a well blended taste and perhaps a hint of anise in the background. Well done.
Mouthfeel is full bodied, chewy, sweet of raisins and molasses, and a roastyness that seems to be the right amount to make this enjoyable.
I'm not sure if I was just in a good mood, or what but I really enjoyed drinking this one. I liked the flavors and everything came together nicely for me. I wish I had more.
Thanks again, Steve! I've been wanting to try this one for a few years.

Photo of aforbes10
3.79/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with NO HEAD. NONE. huh, i don't think ive seen a beer with absolutely no head (except for a couple of homebrews that didn't carbonate). Looks a bit thin too. Odor is kind of fruity and yeasty, with some roasted malt undertones.
Taste is actually pretty good. Deeply roasted coffee with a nice sweet bitterness. Pretty good body too, which is in defiance of the thin looking appearance. Other flavors are chocolate, hops and a strange saltiness which i'll ascribe to the sea air those vikings are obviously brewing in. Pre-tasting, not a winner...post-tasting, I'd have another.

Photo of iron78
3.75/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Is as black as i've seen a beer. Didn't get any head, just a few bubbles. That might go with the aroma, alcohol. Strong alcohol smell with a touch of roasted burnt coffee.
Firt thing I taste is more alcohol. Once I get past that I get some raisin, or date or fig, some sort of dried fruit soaked in rum. Just a touch of coffee flavor, kind of a coffee liquor.
A bit watery feeling. Maybe low carbination hurts the feel.
While not ideal, overall is an enjoyable strong stout.

Photo of Jredner
4/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Strong aroma features dark fruits, perfumey notes which I assume are a combination of alcohol and other aromas, chocolate and a weird sort of coffee/beef stock combo. Sounds bads smells great. Deep black with a quickly diminishing tan head. Lots of raisin, molasses, prune, fig and candied pulms in the fore. Mild cocoa notes. Finish is a melange of dark fruits which leave a lingering fruit juice sweetness. This tastes like an Imperial Schwarzbier or Dunkel. Quite different and much appreciated.

Photo of KarlHungus
4.06/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This brew pours an opaque black color. The head is a quarter inch in height and tan in color. The aroma is creamy and butter with some very faint chocolate, and is rather boring for an Imperial Stout. It isn't bad but there is so much more that could be going on that it is disappointing. The taste is a whole lot better than the aroma. It fills your mouth with chocolate and cream, and leaves a nice warming alcohol feel in your throat. The mouthfeel is perfect. It is full bodied with low carbonation, and oh so smooth. I do believe that this is one of the smoothest beers I have had out of a bottle. Overall, this brew would have achieved greatness is not for its average aroma. Still, I do recommend it, and will certainly drink it again.

Photo of garymuchow
4.25/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma notes strong alcohol. Fruity (dark). Molasses sweetness. Intensity fades in time.
Pours thick and syrupy. Head forms late and fades to a thin layer of tan bubbles that slowly fades away. Heavy black with reddish hues.
Alcohol dominates initial flavor too then moves to fruit and roast. MIldly bitter with dryish finish of roasty malt. Somewhat sweet, but not cloy.
Feel leaves a thick coating on the mouth and teeth. Heavy, Syrupy. Very fine bubbles. Not quite velvety, but pretty soft.
Fun way to start fall exploration of heavier beers. Recommended.

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.42/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a dark black. The mag-lite reveals hidden bright reds and burgundy along with a surprising clearness to this beer. Not much head to speak of, however. But it does leave specks of foam around the edge of my glass. Smells of heavy maple syrup that is delicately blended into a burnt sour barley and oat malt. There are also hints of medicinal smells that come through. As it warmed, some chocolate and alcohol made itself present. Tastes of buttery roasted malts and a stronger than expected sourness along the sides of my tongue. Again, when this warmed a bit, some creamy milk chocolate and sour dark fruits came out. Finishes a bit sour with a smoky sweetness. The mouth feel is quite thick with little carbonation that works well with the creamy flavors. This is a tasty sipper that reminded me of Harpoon’s Barrel Series Imperial Stout #12, but the flavors weren’t but together as well. This beer was surprisingly refreshing and easy to drink for an imperial stout. Also, be sure to have this beer a bit on the warm side. Or, sip it cold and wait for it to warm so you can detect the drastic change in flavor.

From the unexpected buzz that got laid on me after one 12 oz. bottle, I’d have to say the ABV is somewhere around 10%. That’s not too surprising, but I think this is clearly a little stronger than your average imperial stout.

Another side note on the style, every beer from Viking should be prefaced with, “And now for something completely different.” They march to the beat of their own drummer there, reinventing styles and coming up with some fantastic takes on traditional brews. This is one of their better accomplishments, in my opinion.

Big Swede from Valkyrie Brewing
87 out of 100 based on 103 ratings.